Fauré • Franck, etc
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat and the choir of King’s College are preparing their annual feast of Nine Lessons and Carols. In the meantime the choirboys have wrapped up something for your seasonal stocking. Like all such stocking fillers this CD has its excitements and its disappointments. Franck’s Panis Angelicus and the ‘Pie Jesu’ from Fauré’s Requiem hold few surprises. The Choir at King’s have their own unchanging way of doing the Requiem and frankly a little helping of Panis Angelicus goes a long way. Arranging Verdi’s ‘Laudi alla Vergine Maria’ from the Four Sacred Pieces for boys rather than women’s voices may have seemed an interesting idea, but bouncing round that very particular King’s College Chapel acoustic it sounds more Anglican than Anglo-Italian. However Franck’s ‘Alleluia!’ is a real treat. The alto choral scholars are permitted to join the boys but it’s the choristers who send Franck’s touchingly simple melody soaring up to the roof in the opening movement. Fauré’s Messe Basse is nothing but delight with the organist, Tom Winpenney, and the boys relishing Fauré’s sly chromaticism, particularly in the closing Agnus Dei. With music by Schubert, Ireland and Patrick Hadley, Stephen Cleobury clearly hopes to satisfy conservatives and the adventurous alike. The all-inclusive spirit of Christmas I suppose. But come sober-sided January will anyone still be wanting heavenly voices?